Two suspected coronavirus cases in Arctic Finland

The patients initially went to a local health centre for treatment. (Vesa Toppari / Yle)
Two tourists from China’s Wuhan province sought medical treatment during their visit to Finland.

Two tourists visiting Finland from Wuhan in China are suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. On Thursday night the pair went to a health centre in Ivalo, northern Finland, to seek treatment for flu-like symptoms.

Markku Broas, an infectious diseases physician at Lapland central hospital, told Svenska Yle that health professionals took samples from the patients on Friday morning. They were sent to Helsinki for analysis.

However, Broas however said he thinks that it’s likely to be a case of the flu. “There’s no major cause for concern.”

Broas added that the patients must remain in quarantine until the results of the test are known. He said the patients are in fairly good condition.

“One has mild influenza sympoms and the other feels tired and a little ill,” Broas said.

Multiple tests required

Mika Salminen, director of the security unit of the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL, said initial results would be ready on Friday evening or by the latest on Saturday.

Salminen explained that World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols state that testing for new viruses like corona need to be done multiple times before they are considered reliable.

The members of a Chinese family had been travelling in Lapland for several days. According to Broas, they travelled from Wuhan to Finland via Norway.

More than 800 people have been infected with the disease in China and at least 26 have died. So far the World Health Organization has not declared an international emergency

Common signs of novel coronavirus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, according to the WHO.

Good hand hygiene

The Ivalo health centre’s chief physician Outi Liisanantti said around midday Friday that the patients most likely have a normal virus.

The doctor advised that good hygiene is adequate protection, saying that people should wash their hands and use antibacterial gel, as well as cover their mouths and noses with their sleeves when sneezing.

Liisanantti also advised people who have arrived to Finland from Wuhan and have a fever in excess of 38 degrees Celsius and respiratory symptoms should ask their tour operators to call emergency services at 112.

This is a developing story.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Man gets life sentence for murder of Nunavik teen Robert Adams in Arctic Quebec, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Number of reported domestic violence cases rises in Finland, Yle News

United States: U.S. Justice Department to send millions to rural Alaska law enforcement, Alaska Public Media

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